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7 of the best LGBTQ moments from TV last year.

How TV took the conversation way beyond marriage.

7 of the best LGBTQ moments from TV last year.
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Modern Love

Do you remember when Edith Bunker got a job at Louise Jefferson's store?

It caused quite a stir in the fictional Bunker household.

You see, the cantankerous "All in the Family" main character, Archie, didn't want his wife to take the job offer. Not only because it came from his archnemesis George Jefferson but because he was afraid of what people would think of his white wife working in a black man's store.


Those were the days. Image via John S./YouTube.

"What are the neighbors going to say?" Archie asked. "I mean the white neighbors. ... You working at a colored store? What are they going to say?"

"Well," Edith replied with her trademark combination of wisdom and naïveté, "I guess they'll just say, 'Hi, Edith!'"

TV shows often provide a cross-section of American culture. They have a unique, often subtle way of tapping into the important discussions and issues of the day, from race relations to gender roles to LGBTQ rights.

In the first year since the landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality in June 2015, some of America's most popular TV shows have brought LGBTQ characters, issues, and discussions into our homes.

They've moved the conversation forward and helped ensure that LGBTQ rights remain something we all think about, talk about, and care about.

Here are seven of the biggest and best moments for LGBTQ characters from TV in the 2015-2016 season:

1. "How to Get Away With Murder" revealed its main character to be bisexual.

When the hit ABC drama premiered for its second season back in September 2015, fans got a glimpse into the mysterious past of protagonist Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) — which included the revelation that she's bisexual.

Davis was the first African-American woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

While the show is known for its twists and surprises, the moment wasn't played for shock. It simply added a new layer to the character. Shonda Rhimes, who created the show, even said that she's not trying to shock people. Just the opposite, in fact.

"I’m normalizing TV," said Rhimes at an awards gala. "I am making TV look like the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people, equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain’t out of the ordinary."

2. On "Empire," Jamal came out of the closet in a big, bold way.

The prodigal-son character Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) has had it pretty rough. When he was a child, his father literally threw him in the garbage for acting effeminate. While his mother was incarcerated, he was abused and told by his disapproving dad to "act like a man."

Which is why it was a pretty huge deal when Jamal came out of the closet, not hiding from his father, but right in front of him. On a stage. In a white suit. In song. At a massive party. Yeah.

Image via Empire/YouTube.

Even though Jamal knew his father would disapprove, he chose to publicly and epically embrace who he is.

Since queer men of color are hugely underrepresented on TV and in media, Jamal's primetime showstopper was an even bigger deal. Sure, not everyone can come out via a dazzling musical number, but it still shows that you should embrace who you are no matter what anyone says.

And why not go big while you do it?

3. "The Fosters" aired the youngest same-sex kiss in TV history.

"The Fosters," which is one of the most progressive and forward-thinking TV shows on air right now, took LGBTQ visibility to new heights when 13-year-old will-they-won't-they couple Connor (Gavin MacIntosh) and Jude (Hayden Byerly) shared their first on-screen kiss.

What's the big deal? Well just that it was the youngest same-sex kiss in TV history.

Image via The Nomad/YouTube.

Crushes and first kisses are a pretty huge part of everyone's young life, and "The Fosters" did an amazing thing by helping to normalize young same-sex romance.

The kiss was historic, but it was also just as heartwarming and sweet as any other first love story. Which is probably why the #Jonner fanbase was freaking the f**k out. (In a good way).

4. Over on Cartoon Network, "Steven Universe" featured a lesbian couple.

"Steven Universe" is a groundbreaking, envelope-pushing kids show about a young kid named Steven who protects the universe with gems.

In July 2015, it was revealed that Garnet, one of the show's side characters, is actually a fusion of two other characters — Ruby and Sapphire. After that reveal, series producer Ian Jones-Quarterly later confirmed that Ruby and Sapphire are a lesbian couple.

An adorable lesbian couple.


GIF from "Steven Universe."

"TV and movie representation matters," says Edward Schiappa, a communications professor at the University of Minnesota. According to The New York Times, Schiappa performed five studies that all showed that the presence of gay characters on TV decreases prejudice. "These attitude changes are not huge — they don’t change bigots into saints. But they can snowball." Schiappa said.

For kids watching cartoons, seeing LGBTQ characters can help dissolve some societal prejudices as early as possible.

5. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" shined a big spotlight on bisexuality and the problem of bi-erasure.

While there have been increasing numbers of gay and lesbian characters, bisexuality is still underrepresented on TV and is often misrepresented to the point of being harmful. According to GLAAD, only 18 bisexual men appeared on television in 2015, and many of them fell into "dangerous stereotypes about bisexual people."

Some of those harmful stereotypes include the idea that bisexual people are somehow more sexually promiscuous than others or that they simply haven't made up their minds about their sexuality yet and are really just gay or lesbian.

"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," a musical show about a New York lawyer who follows an old flame to California, decided to address all those stereotypes head-on when divorced-father-and-lawyer character Darryl Whitefeather (Pete Gardner) realized, later in life, that he was bi.

Image via The CW/YouTube.

He announced this to his colleagues in a musical number called "Getting Bi" which was simultaneously a jazzy smackdown of those who don't think that bisexuality is a real thing and a proud celebration of his sexual identity.

While bisexuality is still often misrepresented, it was awesome to see it addressed in such a big way.

6. Scott Turner Schofield became the first transgender man to star in a daytime soap opera.

It's hard to get more "Americana" than a daytime soap opera. While most shows come and go, soap operas like "The Bold and the Beautiful" remain, providing an ever-evolving canvas of characters and storylines that reflect the times.

When Scott Turner Schofield joined the cast of "The Bold and the Beautiful" in April 2015, he became the first openly transgender actor to ever play a major role on a soap.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for GLAAD.

His character, Nick, is a mentor and friend of another transgender character on the show played by actress Karla Mosley.

"I am grateful to be able to help uplift and honor ‪‎transgender‬ people in this moment. I had such help from my communities, becoming me," Schofield said in a Facebook post.

With millions of people tuning in to soap operas, Schofield's casting does a lot for trans visibility — something that the trans community continues to fight for.

7. "How to Get Away With Murder" featured an open and frank discussion about HIV and PrEP.

There's a reason "How to Get Away With Murder" is featured on this list twice. The show has done, and continues to do, a lot for LGBTQ visibility and representation.

One of the show's recent plot turns involved Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) revealing to his boyfriend Connor (Jack Falahee) that he is HIV positive. As that storyline played out, the two discussed options for continuing their relationship despite the diagnosis. Naturally, the conversation turned to the HIV prevention drug PrEP — which many couples use to stay safe.

Jack Falahee and Conrad Ricamora at the Point Honors Gala. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Point Foundation.

HIV overwhelmingly affects members of the LGBTQ community, particularly gay and bisexual men who account for two-thirds of all new diagnoses.

Safety and HIV prevention is a real concern but one that is often shrouded in secrecy and stigma. For a primetime TV show to openly discuss it is a huge win for public health.

All of these moments have contributed to something greater than just entertainment.

They've helped the LGBTQ community be seen and heard in new ways. They've pushed our often stubborn and slow-moving country a little further toward equal rights and made the discussion of LGBTQ equality about more than just marriage.

There's still a lot of work to be done. The LGBTQ community is still subject to prejudice, hate, and violence. After the shooting in Orlando, just one year after the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, you probably don't need to be reminded of that.

But the more we embrace love — in our lives, in our hearts, and even on our TV sets, the better the world gets.

Nothing can stop the march forward.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

via The BC Cancer Foundation

Testicular cancer typically affects men between the ages of 16 and 44 and is the most common solid tumor to occur in men of this age group. These tumors grow rapidly and can double in size in just 10 to 30 days.

The disease is potentially fatal if not discovered early and accounts for about 11%-13% of all cancer deaths of men between the ages of 15-35. An estimated 9,60 people were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2020, resulting in around 440 deaths.

So it's incredibly important for people with testicles to check themselves regularly.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.